chocolate’s season

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Hello Everyone and welcome to the weird winting 2014.. meaning that it’s neither really winter, nor spring. It is simply.. weather. Cold, warm, snowy, rainy, sunny.. who cares about the actual season? There is something for everybody this year. No complaints about too many cold days, too many rainy days, too many mild days..it changes often enough, right? 😉
This doesn’t have anything to do with baking, but since the nature is putting so much effort into suiting us all, I think it is the least I can do to appreciate this 😉

So, while the weather is playing carnival, choosing another costume every day, I was busy finding a job and showing the best of me in several interviews. For one interview I went to south Germany. I love that area and the perspective to live there filled me with excitement. I stayed over the weekend to visit my family, who is basically living one of my dreams – waking up to the beautiful sights of the Alps and calling the Zugspitze their neighbor. It was a wonderful weekend and I went skiing, which I rarely do, given the fact that I live in the flat northern part of Germany. Only two weeks later I have been invited to another interview there.. yey!!! This time I was walking back to the hotel, without my jacket.. the weather changed from skiing-mood to ice-cream-mood within a couple of days and I enjoyed both to the fullest.
Ok, ok.. enough talking about weather. On both weekends, I was baking some treats for my family, who was so nice to host me during those days. Well, you might think that a recipe is a recipe and the things you bake just come out the way you know them.. nope! Cookies seem to be as reliable as the seasons nowadays 😉 (aaaahhh.. now you got the connection 😉 ) I made two kinds of cookies when I visited the first time. A traditional holiday cookie (Vanillekipferl) and chocolate cookies. I got the recipe from a Dr.Oetker App. I love Dr.Oetker not only because I grew up in the neighboring town of the place Dr.Oetker is located, but also because the recipes usually come out really good. I never tried this recipe before, but since this was the wish of my hosts and I love to try out new recipes, I started to bake.. and here is the recipe:

100g flour
1tsp baking powder
1tsp baking soda
2tbs cocoa
125g butter
125g sugar
1package vanilla sugar
2 eggs
100g chopped almonds
100g grated chocolate
100g oatmeal
(couple drops rum flavour)

1. mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cocoa in a small bowl and set aside
2. stir the butter until creamy
3. add sugar and vanilla sugar (and the rum flavor if used). Mix until creamy and smooth
4. add one egg at a time and keep mixing; approx. 1/2 minute per egg
5. add half of the flour-cocoa mix to the batter. Mix until blended. Add other half and mix until well blended.
6. add the oatmeal, almonds and chocolate one tablespoon at a time, while mixing on medium speed
7. using two tablespoons, put the dough onto a baking tray covered with baking paper. Make sure that the distance between the cookies is big enough.
8. Bake 14 minutes at 180°C.

The cookies can be stored in a box for up to two weeks.
The recipe is pretty easy and the cookies are sooooo delicious. The almonds give them a taste that you wouldn’t expect and they are very chocolatey.
As I mentioned before, I had some difficulties with making them for the second and third time. After the first batch was almost gone after 24 hours (I told you they are good!) I felt like I have to bake another batch, so my family would remember me after I left. Somehow the second batch came out totally different from the first one. The first time the cookies were thick and round, while they just spread all over the baking tray the second time and came out totally flat and crunchy 😦 The taste was still good, but the shape and the texture were not what we had before. I thought that maybe it is because I didn’t use baking paper the frst time, so the bottom sticked to the pan and prevented the cookies from spreading. With that thought I made another attempt to get back to the original. Two weeks later, when I visited for the second time, I made them again. The dough is enough for two baking trays, so one baking tray was with and the other without baking paper. Hmm.. what can I say? That was not the solution to the problem. In fact, both times I found myself taking out a giant cookie, covering the whole size of the tray. I cut it into smaller bites right after removing it from the oven, before the cookies cooled down and got hard.
Ok.. it was worth a try. Now I was really into finding out what is going on. When I came home, I started all over again. My new idea was that it might be the chocolate that I used. We used a really dark chcocolate the first time and less dark ones the other times. The third time I even used milk chocolate, because I didn’t have any other. We know the result.. giant cookie! At home I went back to the dark chocolate with the idea that, since the chocolate does not melt so easily, the cookies might keep their shape. Aaaaand.. yep! It worked. They still came out a little more flat than the very first ones, but I am getting there 😉 We are closer to the mystery solution!Image

happy new year

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Welcome to 2014. Let’s believe that this year will be even better than 2013 and that our dreams come true… maybe not all of them, cause that might be too much for only 365 days, but the little ones could come true and make us happy 🙂 May your days be filled with love, joy and passion and may your hearts be filled with happiness and gratitude.

Since we all seek happiness in our lives and happiness comes with luck (which everybody defines differently.. but being happy means being lucky enough to reognize happiness), let’s help our fortune a little. On the last day of the year, I decided to bake some fortune cookies to welcome the New Year. I got a cookie stamp for Christmas and wanted to try it out anyway and what better occasion could I get than New Year’s? The recipe comes with the stamp, but I changed it slightly, because I didn’t have any eggs at home and for only half an egg there is no point buying a whole bunch of them, right?

INGREDIENTS

130g butter
1/2 egg (I used a tbsp soy yoghurt instead. You can use any plain yoghurt or buttermilk)
70g sugar
200g flour
1 tsp baking powder ( because of the yoghurt, I used 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp baking soda)
salt
lemon or orange zest

1. beat butter, egg (or yoghurt) and sugar until fluffy
2. add flour, baking powder (and baking soda if used), salt and lemon/orange zest
3. mix until well blended (I kneaded it by hand)
4. wrap in foil and cool in fridge for an hour
5. take dough out of the fridge and roll out (5cm thick)
6. with a glass or cookie cutter, that is slightly bigger than the stamp, cut out round cookies
7. stamp cookies and make sure that the stamped pattern is clear and visible (while baking the dough rises a little and the pattern will get less. You need to make sure it’s deep enough)
8. bake 10-15 minutes at 200°C
9. after the cookies are cooled down completely use powdered sugar to emphasize the pattern. Brush of the sugar from the surface. It will stay inside the letters and make them more visible

 

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Btw. the stamp, along with the recipe, is from “Brinkmann”.

Enjoy the cookies and start this year with a very fortunate tummy 😉

Good luck in 2014 for all of you!!!